KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – An ethnic Chinese rapper in Malaysia has been detained for allegedly insulting Islam in his latest music video.
Wee Meng Chee, popularly known as Namewee, was detained Sunday at Kuala Lumpur's airport as he returned from abroad. Police on Monday obtained a court order to hold the 33-year-old singer for four days to investigate him on suspicion of "defiling a place of worship with intention to insult religion."
The video, "Oh My God," was released last month. It features Wee and three other singers rapping in Mandarin in front of various places of worship and using the word "Allah," which means God in the Malay language. Enraged Malay Islamic activists lodged police complaints against Wee, saying the video was rude and disrespectful to Islam.
Wee has defended the video, saying it was meant to promote religious harmony.
It is not the first time Wee has caused controversy. In one of his earliest videos, he mocked the national anthem and was criticized for racial slurs. He also produced a movie that was banned by the government in 2014 for portraying national agencies in a negative way.
Race and religion are sensitive issues in Malaysia, where the ethnic Malay majority has generally lived peacefully with large Chinese and Indian minorities since racial riots in 1969 left at least 200 people dead.
However, ethnic Chinese and Indians have often complained of being treated unfairly in jobs and education and are denied full freedom of religion.